Sunday, November 15, 2009

A question worth asking

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, a panel addresses an point worth considering:
With student debt rising and more of those enrolled failing to graduate in four years, there is a growing sentiment that college may not be the best option for all students.

Read all the piece here. We have worked ourselves into a froth of egalitarianism so frothy that some insist that every single breathing high-school graduate should be going to college. That's absurd; half the population is of below-average intelligence. To force those people into classrooms is to betray them and the ideal of education. And, given the cost of college these days, it's likely to leave a lot of people with joke educations and a big debt. We'd do better with a well-considered program of vocational education, leaving college for the academically adept. It would be of more benefit to the less scholarly of our young and would guarantee us a supply of trained workers to fill useful jobs. Tried to get a handyman lately? Paid a handyman lately?


Sugar Magnolia said...

Excellent points you have. I once pointed out, on the VicAd forums a couple years ago, that higher education is a privelege, not a right. I also stated that the honor and significance of a deserved degree by serious, academically-minded students becomes diluted by each person entering college or university with little to no serious aspirations and abilities who would be better served by attending a vocational school, or even entering the job force via on-the-job training. I was soundly trounced by bleeding hearts who insisted that "that is why we have grants" and "just because someone is poor doesn't mean they shouldn't go to college", and "everyone has the right to go to college". Mind you, that was not at all the point I was trying to make.

I do believe the cache' of a solid, well-rounded, hard-earned degree is not what it once was, and this is due mainly to all the Johnny-come-latelys who get into colleges and universities by meeting lowered standards, and who don't have a clue what academia is all about, and once there proceed to get a degree in "Kinesiology", pottery, or some other worthless, non-academic course of study. Is such a degree equal to one in Biochemistry or calculus? Not even close. The rigors of higher education have lessened, so that those who once "could not" have a chance to get a degee, too. Heaven forbid we not hand each and every young person a degee; we certainly don't want to be accused of not treating everybody equally or of hurting anyone's feelings. We are dumbing down our academic institutions to meet the lowest common denominators these days instead of celebrating those who aspire and imagine and make the grade, those who appreciate the true meaning of higher education.

Edith Ann said...

Sugar, you're kind of harsh on that Kinesiology degree, aren't you? How do you expect all those football coaches to get a degree so they can coach? You think they are going to study history or math, subjects they don't need to coach? Teach something academic? Lesson plans and other prep that takes away from coaching? Silly YOU!!!

I do have to say, I have a cousin with a kinesiology degree who was headed to PT school and was lured over to nursing, and another cousin currently in school working on the kinesiology degree with PT school in the plans.

Loon and SM--I completely agree. But remember back in the day when school counselors were called guidance counselors and actually offered guidance? They were no longer 'guiding' when my kids were in school (grad in '97 and '00).

And let's toss in the parents who think their children are the smartest kids in school. Or how about this--in the '96-'97 school year, the top of the class was so competetitive at St. Jo, several of the kids came over to Stroman to do their senior year. They had way less competition and had a higher ranking when they graduated.

I think it would help if the vocational schools were not mostly private. They sort of have a bad reputation--school loans, costs, etc.--and while VC has a lot of vocational options, maybe that should be beefed up in other community colleges.

chats said...

Need a handyman? I might could work you in. Of course, I'll need credit references, access to your savings account, and a completed contract with all extras duly filled. And a first-class ticket to your nearest airport and a chauffeured limousine. Act soon. I'm booked through 2011.

Edith Ann said...

Once upon a time, I believed both of my sons would go to college and get multiple degrees and make a fabulous living. I have since discovered that was not to be. And it's okay.

However, despite incomplete college educations, my kids are doing okay. One is in sales; the other is a welder. Neither career required a degree, and both make about what I make with a degree. (I am not rolling in the dough, but I am very comfortable.)

I did always tell my boys that the more they knew how to do, the less they would have to pay someone else to do it for them. But chats is right. I'll take practical skill over book smarts most any day. The conversation might not be as stimulating, but the finished job will most likely be excellent.